Biden moves NLRB one step closer to having a pro-union majority

THE NLRB is one step closer to having a pro-union majority with President Joe Biden’s nomination of David Prouty, general counsel for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ in New York City, to fill an upcoming vacancy.

President Biden has moved the National Labor Relations Board one step closer toward having a majority of members with pro-union backgrounds.

Biden named David Prouty to fill the upcoming vacancy that will be created when Trump appointee, William Emanuel’s, term ends at the end of August.

Prouty, a long-time union lawyer, currently serves as the general counsel for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ in New York City.

Before joining SEIU, Prouty worked as the general counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) from 2013 through 2017. Before that, he worked from 2008 to 2013 as the Chief Labor Counsel for the players union.

Prior to joining the MLBPA, Prouty worked as General Counsel for UNITE and then joined UNITE HERE after UNITE and HERE merged in 2004. He also worked for UNITE’s predecessor union ACTWU for 15 years litigating some of the union’s landmark organizing cases including Fieldcrest Cannon, S. Lichtenberg, Tultex, and Kmart.

This is the second time that President Biden has nominated a new NLRB member who had served with the SEIU. Recent nominee Gwynne Wilcox had worked for a different SEIU local union earlier in her career. Both Prouty and Wilcox also played significant roles in advancing the “Fight for $15.”

The nomination was immediately praised by Labor unions.

“We are pleased that President Biden has nominated a person with such outstanding credentials to the National Labor Relations Board, and we look forward to seeing the NLRB restored to its statutory role of safeguarding employee rights and fairly adjudicating disputes,” said Lee Saunders, president of  the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “Prouty is the right person, at the right time, for this job.”

Local 32BJ also released a statement calling the appointment a “Home run for strengthening Labor rights worker-centered standards in our country and restoring the NLRB’s core function to protect the interests of workers.”

“It is important that the people who serve in a position to carry out the law have a real-world understanding of how the Act operates on a practical level, as well as have an in-depth understanding of the Act’s legal intricacies,” the International Association of Machinists said in a statement. “Mr. Prouty began his career as an organizer for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Having this hands-on involvement as an organizer is a vital experience for someone who must enforce our laws governing how workers can exercise their rights to join a union.”

Prouty still needs to be approved by the Senate, but his appointment is likely to accelerate the NLRB’s shift into a more pro-union board likely revisit Trump-era decisions on matters such as the joint employer standard, the scope of what constitutes “protected concerted activity,” and NLRB election procedures.

That will be even more likely if the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act becomes law.

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